13 Look, my servant will succeed. He will rise. He will be lifted up. He will be highly exalted. 14 Just as many were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured that he did not look like a man, and his form was disfigured more than any other person—15 so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him, because they will see something they had never been told before, and they will understand something they had never heard before.
Who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot and like a root from dry ground. He had no attractiveness and no majesty. When we saw him, nothing about his appearance made us desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man who knew grief, who was well acquainted with suffering. Like someone whom people cannot bear to look at,
he was despised, and we thought nothing of him. 4 Surely he was taking up our weaknesses, and he was carrying our sufferings. We thought it was because of God that he was stricken, smitten, and afflicted, 5 but it was because of our rebellion that he was pierced. He was crushed for the guilt our sins deserved. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all have gone astray like sheep. Each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has charged all our guilt to him. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb he was led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent in front of its shearers, he did not open his mouth.
8 He was taken away without a fair trial and without justice, and of his generation, who even cared? So, he was cut off from the land of the living. He was struck because of the rebellion of my people. 9 They would have assigned him a grave with the wicked, but he was given a grave with the rich in his death, because he had done no violence, and no deceit was in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and to allow him to suffer. Because you made his life a guilt offering, he will see offspring. He will prolong his days, and the Lord’s gracious plan will succeed in his hand. 11 After his soul experiences anguish, he will see the light of life. He will provide satisfaction. Through their knowledge of him, my just servant will justify the many, for he himself carried their guilt. 12 Therefore I will give him an allotment among the great, and with the strong he will share plunder, because he poured out his life to death, and he let himself be counted with rebellious sinners. He himself carried the sin of many, and he intercedes for the rebels.Isaiah 52:13-53:12
♫He serves that I a lord may be, A Great Exchange Indeed! Could Jesus’ love do more for me To help me in my need? To help me in my need? (CW 41:5).
Some of you may have recognized what I just sang as a hymn from Christmas! But, this is Good Friday. What does Christmas have to do with Good Friday? Actually, everything! Christmas highlights who the Savior is. Good Friday highlights what the Savior did. Who he is and what he did as our Savior speaks of his identity. Jesus is the center of our focus on this Good Friday as Isaiah points to:
A Great Exchange Indeed!
For me…. that is in my place.
“It’s not fair” says the little girl who is given a time out just because she pushed her little brother off his tricycle because she was bigger and could. “It’s not fair” says the teenager who suspended from school for possession of weed in the parking and knows lots of kids who do much worse. “It’s not fair” says the man quarantined with the Covid 19 virus after doing everything he was supposed to do to stay healthy. Here’s the thing, whether we think it’s fair or not doesn’t matter. All the bad things that happen to us are a result of sin in the world and in our hearts. It wasn’t the way God wanted it to be. He gave mankind the perfect world. But, after falling from Satan’s temptation and disobeying God’s command—to refrain from eating from one tree in order to show love and obedience to God, there have been consequences. God said it, “You will die.” It’s that simple. If you abuse the perfect life I gave you by disobeying me, you will have to pay back your life. What kind of God would do such a thing? A God is who is holy. So, God has to punish sin. God is always fair.
The sinful condition of mankind repeats itself throughout history. During the days of Noah the wicked people refused to listen to God, and God sent The Flood. During the days of the Judges, Israel refused to listen to God, and God sent enemies to destroy them. Times haven’t changed.
Why should we expect anything different today? When “6 We all have gone astray like sheep. Each of us has turned to his own way.” The excuses ring in our ears: 1) I couldn’t help it. 2) Everyone else is doing it. 3) No one will see me because it’s in the dark. 4) It’s not really that bad. 5) At least I’m not hurting anybody. 6) It feels so good, so why can’t I enjoy it? 7) God wants me to be happy, so why would he want me to suffer? 8) I’ve got to let my hair down every once in a while. 9) She started it. 10) He deserved it because he was so mean to me. Is that enough? How do those excuses stand for a little girl, a teenager with drugs, a person quarantined with sickness? They don’t. So, how it is that anyone can think that any excuse will stand before a holy God? And please don’t nod your head saying, “You’re right. I’m a sinner. But’s it’s Good Friday and I’m supposed to say that.”
Then you better visit the doctor of souls and get tested. At his examination you’ll hear the truth about who you really are. By nature you are his enemy, despising his Word and rebelling against God’s holy will. By nature you are blind to his love and providence, insisting that your way is better. By nature you are dead in sins. Because of this you have broken faith with God. That is our condition according to our sinful flesh. Therefore, after God examines us and finds our sins, he isn’t a big meanie with an uncontrollable temper. He simply confronts us with what is fair. A holy God cannot and will not tolerate sinners in his presence. He has to punish sinners to be just.
That’s where Isaiah come with a miracle message: “Who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” This is a message that comes from God’s courtroom. It wasn’t as anyone expected. “2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot and like a root from dry ground. He had no attractiveness and no majesty. When we saw him, nothing about his appearance made us desire him.” A miracle took place. It is a miracle no one could have ever imagined. It goes beyond human understanding, or looks to be foolish and ridiculous. God sent his special servant, his Son, onto the scene. Here’s the miracle, “the Lord has charged all our guilt to him….5 but it was because of our rebellion that he was pierced. He was crushed for the guilt our sins deserved…. he was stricken, smitten, and afflicted,” The miracle? What we deserved, Jesus took upon himself in your place! A Great Exchange Indeed!
Now we know why it is a Good Friday we remember this evening. Jesus came into the world to take our place. Jesus, who had no sin, came to suffer the consequences of your sin and my sin. Your gossip spit on him. My coveting whipped his back. Your jealousy pressed the crown of thorns on his head. My cheating drove the nails into his hands. Our anger nailed his feet to the cross. It was our sins that created this awful scene so people are “appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured that he did not look like a man, and his form was disfigured more than any other person.” Because of our sinful thoughts, words and deeds, “3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man who knew grief, who was well acquainted with suffering. Like someone whom people cannot bear to look at,
he was despised, and we thought nothing of him.” And it would get worse. “We thought it was because of God that he was stricken, smitten, and afflicted, 5 but it was because of our rebellion that he was pierced. He was crushed for the guilt our sins deserved.” Yes, his punishment is what we deserved. Jesus received the eternal punishment of hell from God the Father because of our rebellion. Jesus did it all for you and for me. In your place and in my place Jesus performed a Great Exchange Indeed! That Great Exchange was
For You…that is, for your benefit
So, this evening we have gathered to meditate on the death of Jesus in our place. But, if we only have sympathy for Jesus, then we’re missing the point. Remember when Jesus was carrying his cross out of Jerusalem and the women were weeping for him? Jesus told them NOT to weep for him, but for themselves. So we weep for our sins. Yes, Jesus had to suffer and die in our place, but also for our benefit! Look at the cross again because behind the Great Exchange is the purpose of God being fulfilled. You see, after all mankind was lost due to sin, God stepped into win us back into his gracious arms. Yes, the consequences of sin are endured while living on this earth and we deserved to be banished from the Garden of his Love, but God still wants us to be with him in Paradise.
So, what type of Good Friday worshipers are you going to be? As you view the cross of Jesus it is good for us to recognize that it was our sins that put Jesus on the cross. But, there is so much more to see. Our hearts not only have sorrow over our sins, but are overwhelmed with gratitude and joy for what we see! “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed….10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and to allow him to suffer. Because you made his life a guilt offering,…. He will prolong his days, and the Lord’s gracious plan will succeed in his hand….. He will provide satisfaction. Through their knowledge of him, my just servant will justify the many.” Mixed with the horrible suffering of Jesus, is his love. This is God’s amazing love. This is the Love of God to send his Son and pay his holy life as the perfect payment for all our sins. Yes, we will endure the consequences of sin in this life—whether time outs, or suspensions, or sickness. But, this life is not our goal. Our goal is life with God in heaven for Jesus’ sake.
For Jesus’ sake. Look how Isaiah paints this picture for us. The enemies of Jesus wanted his body through into the grave like a dead dog. But, God undid their plans. “9 They would have assigned him a grave with the wicked, but he was given a grave with the rich in his death, because he had done no violence, and no deceit was in his mouth.” See how special Jesus is to God the Father. That is love. Actually, their evil plans kept turning out to support God’s plan all along. They wanted to protect the disciples from stealing his body and say he rose from the dead, so Pilate had the tomb sealed and a guard placed over it. They were fulfilling God’s plan “He will prolong his days, and the Lord’s gracious plan will succeed in his hand.” While Satan was working to destroy Jesus’ work, every step along the way God was exchanging his evil plans and working them out for our eternal benefit.
“He serves that I a lord may be, A Great Exchange Indeed! Could Jesus’ love do more for me To help me in my need? To help me in my need?” Christmas tells us who Jesus is. Good Friday tells us what Jesus did. Isaiah’s Good Friday message gives a clear answer to the question: Could Jesus’ love do more for me to help me in my need? No. It is finished! Jesus’ Great Exchange Did It All. He did it all for you. He died in your place and he gave you all you need so you can live forever in Paradise. It is a Good Friday Indeed! Amen!